Like clutter in your home or a bad relationship, financial problems can be suffocating. Learn to set boundaries with your money to free you from nagging worries and to maintain financial health for your family. Master organizer Peter Walsh shows you how in Lighten Up: Love What You Have, Have What You Need, Be Happier with Less.
I’ve said that in your physical space, your relationships, your job and your family you need to set limits. The same is true for your money. If you don’t honor and respect your relationship with your money, that relationship will eventually sour and, like the clutter in your home or a bad boyfriend, become overwhelming, suffocating, and even paralyzing.
The concept of keeping to a budget is something that frightens and overwhelms many people but it shouldn’t. A budget is a tool to help you manage your money, reach consensus on what is reasonable spending, and track the financial health of your family. Budgets are also ways in which we can set our boundaries around money — the rules that we set up for ourselves in order to maintain a semblance of control over how we spend and allocate our financial resources. Boundaries are what keep us focused and moving closer to our goals. I’ve already given you lots of examples of boundaries in this book, and you may have already come up with a few of your own. Examples include:
- Instilling the forty-eight-hour rule: don’t buy until you’ve spent two days asking yourself why you need to buy this item and how you’ll pay for it.
- Setting dollar limits above which you must discuss your purchases and get “approval” by all family members. For some the limit can be as low as $50. Discussing your nonessential purchases (i.e., items that have nothing to do with basic living expenses) should be part of your conversations with your family members.
- Sticking to cash and using credit cards only for emergencies.
- Keeping to the commandment: If you cannot afford to pay for an item in full today, then don’t buy it.
- Considering old-fashioned layaway terms for buying items that you cannot pay for in full today but that you truly need.
- Setting aside a certain amount of money each month to put toward savings.
- Servicing your debt consistently by allocating a certain amount each month toward outstanding bills and credit card balances.
When it comes to money, you need to set boundaries that help you balance your needs and desires in the present with your needs and desires in the future. With clear boundaries, there are no unwelcome financial surprises and your financial situation is clearly laid out. This type of financial organization frees you from many of those nagging worries and concerns about the unknown.
Boundaries don’t just exist for money-related issues. In your decluttered home, I ask you to set boundaries by keeping only the amount of stuff with which you can comfortably live the life you want to live. In relationships, those boundaries are more abstract and personal. At work, you need to establish boundaries that separate your work life and your home life. It’s up to you to figure out which boundaries fit your life and choices, and establish them today with your family. Everyone’s set of boundaries will be different. If, for example, your family has a tendency to spend money on eating out and buying the latest gadgets, then you’ll need to establish very clear boundaries around those weak spots and ensure that everyone in the family is accountable for abiding by them. You can think of boundaries as an owner’s manual or set of bylaws. When followed, they’ll help you and your family be more efficient, goal oriented, and successful.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Peter Walsh, author of Lighten Up: Love What You Have, Have What You Need, Be Happier with Less (Copyright © 2011 by Peter Walsh Design, Inc.), is a clutter expert and organizational consultant who characterizes himself as part contractor and part therapist. He is a regular guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and hosts Enough Already! with Peter Walsh on The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). Peter holds a master’s degree with a specialty in educational psychology. He divides his time between Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia.
MORE ARTICLES BY THE AUTHOR
- Read the Introduction to Lighten Up: Love What You Have, Have What You Need, Be Happier with Less
- Learn about the author’s book Enough Already!: Clearing Mental Clutter to Become the Best You
- Browse more books by the author